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RaplhCramden,

This may be a case where we have to agree to disagree. There's an old saying, often called 'the first law of economists...' "for every economist, there's and equal an opposite economist."

The next 'law', of course, is "they're both wrong."

Neither one of us is going to convince the other one, and frankly, all this is serving to do for me is to have me question my current electoral position and is making me seriously consider voting for Bush instead of Libertarian.

You can't convince me that the unregulated and free market by itself is going to eliminate 'bad or dangerous drugs', especially since in the legal marketplace, it hasn't eliminated bad or dangerous products.

Tobacco is clearly a dangerous and deadly drug - definitively linked to cancer, emphezema, and premature death. You, yourself admit that: Lets face it, anybody suing the tobacco companies that is less than about 50 years old in the U.S. has no one to blame but themselves. The information was crammed down my throat in public schools about how bad tobacco was. Yet my reject friends all took up smoking, as teenagers. How do you blame the tobacco companies for that? If it has been well known for +/- fifty years that tobacco is a bad drug, then why has the free market not eliminated tobacco through mass-individual selection? Why has only government price control and behavior intervention led to a slowdown of tobacco use?

In addition, many chronic diseases in innocent bystanders, such as asthma and emphezema, are linked to being around smokers, failing the Libertarian premise of "do no harm to others". Yet cigarettes are still legally bought and sold, and private liability claims have failed to put a dent in the use of cigarettes. Only government extortion, via the multi-state settlement, outrageous surcharge taxes on sales of cigarettes, and behavioral dictates on where and when a person can smoke have actually managed to lead to a slowdown of cigarette use.

So which is it? Does the free market really automatically, quickly, and efficiently remove bad drugs from use? Is private drug litigation really effective in a "caveat emptor" marketplace, especially when the substances are known to have negative effects? Or is tobacco really a 'harmless, feel good' substance, and all the stuff about cancer, premature death, emphezema, and asthma merely correlation statistics gone wild?

Nobody reputable claims that cocaine and heroin are harmless, feel good substances without serious negative side effects of their own. So will the result of legalized use of the substances be a "caveat emptor" marketplace like tobacco, where the free market, combined with the futility of private prosecution, has failed to eliminate a drug commonly acknowledged as 'bad'? That runs counter to the theory that litigation risk would quickly drive 'bad' drugs (as defined, I guess, the same way as tobacco, by negative side effects) out of business. Or will the legalized use of cocaine lead to a lawsuit-happy user population, driving up the market price, creating a price-imposed demand gap, and again making crack an economically viable, though potentially 'black market' option? Well, that runs counter to the theory that allowing cocaine legally would drive crack out of business.

I offer this as a counterpoint to your 'methanol' example and an illustration of how the first and second laws of economists (quoted above) work in reality. In all honesty, this is a point on which I can tell we will likely never agree. So I am going to agree to disagree with you, and I hope you will do the same with me.

I do appreciate the debate and discussion. It was probably the most entertaining political debate I've had in quite a long time. I appreciate that it did not stoop to the personal attack level of many I've seen.

Thank you.

-Chuck
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